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March 13, 2013

The Antibiotic Zithromax May Cause Fatal Heart Problems

The FDA has issued a warning for the antibiotic drug Zithromax, commonly known as Z-pack or Zmax, due to the fact that the drug can cause disruption to the electrical activity of the heart. An investigation has been conducted since May 2012 to determine the side effects of Zithromax and therefore a warning was issued on Tuesday, March 12, 2013.

Zithromax is an antibacterial drug known as macrolides, which have been known to cause abnormal heart rhythm problems, which can lead to fatal heart conditions. In the research conducted by the New England Journal of Medicine, it was found that patients who took Zithromax were 2.5 times more likely to die due to heart related problems on a 5 day treatment plan when compared to patients using other antibiotics.

Patients with existing medical conditions were at higher risk of heart health issues as those without pre-existing medical conditions. Patients with low blood levels of potassium and/or magnesium, those with slower than normal heart rates and those taking certain drugs used to treat abnormal heart rhythms were at higher risk of complications when using Zithromax.

Pfizer, in 2011, made a profit of over $450 million in Zithromax sales. The drug is usually prescribed to patients suffering from urinary tract infections, tonsillitis and other bacterial infections. Patients should consult with their physicians before taking this drug and doctors should inform patients of the possible heart problem drug side effects of using this drug.

November 1, 2012

Your Genes May Determine the Level of Pain Felt After an Automobile Crash

New research conducted by scientist from the University of North Carolina has found that genes play a role in the amount of pain and the severity of pain a person experiences after being involved in an automobile crash.

Two studies were conducted and data from 948 adult automobile accident victims were collected to determine that certain inherited genetic variations affect the response to pain intensity both immediately after an accident and up to six weeks after. The adult participants of these two studies provided blood samples after being treated in an emergency room and were also evaluated for extent and severity of pain at a second emergency room visit six weeks later.

The first study conducted examined the role of the neurotransmitter drug called Dopamine, which helps regulate pain. The pain levels felt immediately after an automobile crash was varied based on genetic variations associated with the use of Dopamine.

The second study evaluated the role of hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis - a hormonal system - which helps regulate the body's response to stressful events and situations. It was found that a gene variant was linked to a 20% higher risk of moderate to severe neck pain six weeks after an automobile crash, as well as greater overall body pain.

This research will allow us to find new ways of tailoring pain treatments to each individual patient in order to alleviate pain suffered as a result of an automobile crash, both immediately after a crash and weeks after.

September 28, 2011

Serious Side Effects of Levaquin Reported in the U.S.

The popular antibiotic Levaquin, is available only by prescription, comes in tablet, oral solution and intravenous forms and is prescribed to adults, over the age of 18, to treat infections. These infections include: sinus infections (sinusitis), chronic bronchitis, pneumonia, skin infections or skin-structure infections and various types of urinary track infections.

Levaquin should only be taken by prescription and one must follow physician orders. If taken incorrectly or in high dosages it can have severe side effects and even death. Levaquin has also been associated with an increased risk of tendon rupture or swelling of the tendon (tendinitis). The risk, however, is higher in adults over the age of 60, people who take steroids, and those who have had kidney, heart of lung transplants.

If you experience any weakening of muscles, tendons or any swelling and/or inflammation, please seek medical help immediately. Tendon rupture can occur while you are taking Levaquin or even months after you stop taking it.

Other possible side effects of Levaquin include: liver damage, central nervous system side effects (such as: seizures, hallucinations, confusion, anxiety, difficulty sleeping, etc.), allergic reactions, damage to the nerves in arms, legs and hands, intestinal infections, changes in heart rhythms and changes in blood sugar.

The most common side effects of Levaquin include: nausea, headache, diarrhea, constipation and dizziness. While taking Levaquin you should avoid sunlaps/tanning beds and operating heavy machinery.

In 1996, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the distribution of Levaquin and in 2008 it required that the drug packaging have a black box warning label. The black box warning label is the strongest warning that can be placed on a prescription medication.

Currently, in the United States, there are about 1,900 Levaquin tendon damage cases pending litigation.

For a complete list of symptoms and side effects you may contact your physician and the FDA by visiting www.fda.gov/medwatch, or by calling 1(800)FDA-1088

July 12, 2011

Basis for Product Liability Legal Claims

When consumers make purchases they expect them to function properly and safely. It is when the purchased defective item causes injuries and illnesses that there are basis for product liability lawsuits. Some of these items are: automobiles, prescription drugs, beauty products, frozen foods, automobile parts and tires, etc.

When Manufactures realize that a product is defective they issue out a recall of that item to consumers. However, recalls do not always keep the consumer safe.

Product liability claims are based on the theory of negligence. The manufacturer has a duty to exercise a reasonable standard of care for developing a particular product, and has failed to do so; thus resulting in harm to the consumer. When making a negligence claim, the injured consumer must prove that the defective product was the actual and proximate cause of the injury. One must show that had it not been for the defective product, the injury would not have occurred. The manufacturer should have foreseen the danger and risk when it sold the product.

Design defect, failure to warn/improper labeling and manufacturing defects are the most common scenarios that form the basis for a product liability claim.

Product liability claims can also be based on the following legal theories:
- Breach of Warranty - failure to fulfill terms of a promise or claim made regarding the quality and safety of a product. A manufacturer must guarantee certain warranties on products sold and needs to be held accountable when they are breached;

- Strict Liability - responsibility of the manufacturer to all consumers who might be injured by a product and does not require the injured consumer to prove negligence. The consumer only needs to prove that the product was defective and therefore cause the injury, therefore; making the product unreasonable defective and dangerous. The designer, manufacturer, distributor and seller of the defective product can and should be held liable for the injury and illnesses cause to the consumer.

- Misrepresentation - when a manufacturer gives the consumer false or misleading information on the safety and reliance of a product. When the consumer relies on this information and is harmed, they can recover money damages.

A consumer can also contact the Consumer Product Safety Commission for further details and advice.

April 29, 2010

Medical Errors Are Costly and On the Rise

Research has shown that medical errors may result most frequently from system errors. One out of 25 patients in hospitals are injured due to medical errors, and an estimated 48,000 to 98,000 patients die from these errors a year. Even if you consider the lower estimate of 48,000 errors a year, it is still higher than the annual mortality from motor vehicle accidents (43,458), breast cancer (42,297), or even AIDS (16,516), thus making medical errors the eighth leading cause of death in the United States. These errors, besides causing death, have also cost the economy from $17 to $29 billion each year and cost more that $5 million a year in large teaching hospitals, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

For Patients at Risk, Medical errors may result in the following:

- A patient being given the wrong medicine
- A clinician misreading the results of a test
- An elderly person that shows up to an emergency room with ambiguous systems, such as: shortness of breath, abdominal pain and dizziness, whose heat attack is not diagnosed by the medical staff

How Errors Occur:
- Medication Errors:
These are preventable mistakes in the prescribing and delivering of medications to a patient, these errors include: prescribing two or more drugs whose interaction is known to produce side effects or prescribing a drug to which the patient is allergic to.
- Surgical Errors
- Diagnostic Inaccuracies:
This leads to ineffective treatment and/or unnecessary testing, which is costly and can be invasive to the patient.
- System Failures:
This is the way health care is delivered and the way that resources are provided to the delivery system.

Medical Mistakes are also made by distracted nurses. It is believed that if medical facilities had more nursing staff that could focus their attention on fewer tasks at a time that medical mistakes would decrease, patient safety increase and it would reduce the risk of medical malpractice. When nurses are interrupted, it increases the chance of a procedural failure by 12.1%, and the chances of a clinical error by 12.7%, as indicated by the Archives of Internal Medicine study published in Australia in 2008.

April 12, 2010

Prescription Drug Poisoning Has Surpassed Automobile Accidents As the Leading Cause of Unintentional Injury Deaths

Rx bottle.jpgIn a report by the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, prescription drug poisoning now surpasses automobile accidents as the leading cause of unintentional injury death among people of ages 35 to 54.

Currently the number of people that are hospitalized due to overdoses from prescription drugs is 65% higher than they were between 1999 and 2006. Such drugs are OxyContin, Fentanyl and Morphine. The use of these drugs, whether illegally or as a suicide attempt rose 130% and accidental overdoses rose by 37%. No other prescription drug causes such a high occurrence of hospitalizations in the United States, according to Researchers from the West Virginia University School of Medicine.

Overdoses from drugs such as tranquilizers, sedatives and painkillers, has also risen by 65% in the last couple of years, making drug poisoning the second leading cause of unintentional injury death in the U.S.

In 2009, an average of 71,000 people, were hospitalized for painkiller overdoses. This is a huge increase from the 43,000 people that were hospitalized in 2008. Methadone is the drug that saw the largest increase in poisoning hospitalizations. Among other drugs that saw an increase in hospitalization is Valium, which saw a 39% increase. Barbiturates and antidepressants actually saw a decrease.

It is due to these huge increases in drug overdoses that caused the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to approve a new tamper-resistant version of OxyContin. This new version of the drug is supposed to resist the efforts to cut, chew, or crush the pills in order to defeat the slow medication release design of the pills.